September's Teacher of the Month

POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) – When we were kids, we had some teachers we liked more than others. The more we grow up, the more we learn just how important that mentor was in our lives. It helped shape who we would become.

September's Teacher of the Month is just that, a mind-molding mentor. Ms. Darla McClung, a 2nd grade teacher at Alma Spikes Elementary in Pocahontas, said she learned at an early age she wanted to be a teacher.

"I am a small town girl from McDougal. I attended school at Knobel, in Knobel High School, which is no longer there. It's consolidated, and I'm one of 8 children. I loved going to school. I could name all my teachers from 1st grade to senior high," said McClung. "They saw that there was a chance for me to do things that I never had the opportunity to do before."

McClung was nominated for her caring attitude. She said she was put in the situation where she had to tutor one student one-on-one after classes because he couldn't learn like the other students. McClung said she never gave up hope on the child, who began to excel in his reading skills. The boy's mother said no other teacher compares to McClung.

"My favorite thing about being a teacher is to see the children change. From like, maybe when they come in, maybe they're scared. Maybe their little heads are drooped down or their shoulders are drooped down, or they're talking in a soft, quiet voice and by the end of the year, those heads are up and those shoulders are back and they're smiling and they felt successful," said McClung, who is entering her 29th year in the teacher profession.

McClung said her teaching style is designed to keep students interactive in the classroom. She said students are expected to know the procedures, but she also has fun with her students. She said some students get to use a "treasure box" if they've done something correct.

"I'm a yard sale queen. I had gone to a yard sale and there was a little zip lock bag of super balls. I was like yes! Treasures for the treasure box! I laughed at the person. I said one man's junk is another man's treasure, and those balls were gone that afternoon," said McClung.

McClung also said she couldn't do her job effectively without help.

"It's all about differentiating and meeting everyone's needs, which is a challenge. There's no way I could do it like I'm able to do it without Mrs. Kathy," said McClung.

While some children learn differently than others, McClung said the challenge is to meet the goals of each child.

"Not all children see flat and that children have different type of learning styles, and we have to find what learning style fit him," said McClung. "Let's say they come in your classroom and maybe they've never even seen the alphabet, you've got another child come in and maybe they're reading 3rd and 4th grade material. That's the art of being a teacher, to take those children and put them in one room and finding a common theme."

McClung said she feels it is her responsibility to take each child under her wing.

"When I go to bed at night, I want to be able to lay my head down and have a free conscience, and say I did, I did what I could do today to try to help each and every one of mine," said McClung.

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